Graphics Rant

The industry is making a large shift in recent years and has been almost parallel with the film industry. They are creating more serious, story-driven games with more expansive gameplay. Unfortunately much like the film industry, people have been demanding more action, more explosions, more guns, and more blood i.e. more graphics. This comes at the price of sacrificing the gameplay and the story. Graphics are not the most important element in a game. That title stands with the gameplay and storyline.

I recently got the chance to play Watch Dogs on the Playstation 3 and have enjoyed it immensely because of it’s gameplay, design and unique, thriller storyline. Although it is by no means a perfect game some of the complaints made by fellow gamers and reviewers are completely unwarranted but I feel the most unjustified complaint has to be about the game’s graphics. Personally, I am sick and tired of this generation of gamers complaining about the graphics as if that is all the matters in a game. To quote a few comments from various boards here’s what gamers have been saying about Watch Dogs :

The game does not grab me like other games in Ubisoft’s library. I understand where they were going with this series but the over hyped “true next gen experience” really killed the initial experience. I do not feel blown away by the graphics on the PS4 version, they do not even come close to looking as good as Second Son does.

Anyone who has infamous on PS4 and have been playing Watch Dogs…play infamous again…..the graphics look even more stunning after playing a game like watch dogs
don’t get me wrong when infamous came out it looked great BUT after not playing it for a while and playing watch dogs I can see even more how stunning the infamous graphics and textures really are
cant believe how bad watch dogs looks…all the horrid textures

“They graphics are sub par, the game looks good. But there is barely a difference between PS3 – PS4, Xbox 360 – Xbox one. To me it doesn’t live up to the hype.”

Even IGN made a mention of the graphics in their review :

Everything runs at a smooth 30 frames per second, however, after playing for a few hours I did start to experience frequent slowdowns when new mission objectives were loading up. Fortunately they never happened when anything interesting was going on, but they’re definitely noticeable and get progressively worse as the story goes on.

While graphics can certainly enhance a gaming experience they are not the most important or essential element in a game. What truly matters is the gameplay and the story. Graphics should not be judged by detail, attractiveness, or realism but rather by the art direction and design. Older and well known games such as Zelda, Pokemon, and Shadow of the Colossus are prime examples for unforgettable gameplay and storyline with equally appealing and memorable artwork. Although modern games such as the Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed, and Final Fantasy lack graphics that change the face of video games they are still revered and replayed for their impressive storylines, gameplay, and art design.
Without the story element a game has no direction. The story acts as the heart and soul of a game is the device that keeps the player connected on an emotional level. This is what keeps a player interested and immersed in the game’s world. A game cannot have a player randomly play events in any order. The opening to The Last of Us would been nearly as emotional if it had started with (spoiler) Joel’s daughter Ellie dying without telling me who she or Joel is and why he’s distraught over her death. The player needs to know why he feels the way he does and how he got there. What motivates Joel to do what he does? This is all a part of a good story and is highly essential to games. Even Mario has a reason behind why he is going down pipes, throwing shells, and killing goombas. What is his motivation and why is he doing this? Simple, to rescue Princess Peach. Nearly every character in any medium ever in existence has a motivation and a story behind them. Video games aren’t any different. They are another platform to tell a story.

The second and number one most important component in a game is the gameplay. This is how the creators decide to tell the story. This is combined with story is what makes people come back to a game. Sometimes the gameplay alone is enough for players to continue playing. But most of all, this is what makes the game fun. The Halo games have never looked out of this world fantastic visually but I would be lying if I said I did not have fun playing any of those games online till early hours in the morning. It was the gameplay that kept me coming back for more. Red Dead Redemption was the same. I still come back and play that game because it’s fun to play a cowboy in the old west. I don’t just sit there, controller in hand staring at the visuals. I’m entirely involved through the gameplay. Indie games have learned how to sacrifice or revise graphics in order to make a fun and interesting game. The majority of these games like Fez or Bastion do not rely on the latest graphics and technology to make the game great but rather the gameplay.

So why do these gamers continue to make graphics so important? Why are the graphics a deal breaker for gamers in 2014? Is it because of the new, younger generation demanding this from developers? Have the developers and publishers put their foot in their mouth by touting faster, more powerful systems that will supply amazing visuals? Why are people still taking out their old NES, Gameboy, Sega Dreamcast, and N64 and replaying memorable games but becoming so critical and pessimistic about present games? It feels as if gamers have become so critical of games that they forgot to have fun, relax, and enjoy themselves. Instead they are angry and upset because it has not achieved perfection. Although I was frustrated with Watch Dogs for the initial first hour of gameplay I stuck with it. In the end I became immersed in the world and really enjoyed myself. That’s what gamers need to remember. Forget about the reviews, playthroughs, or what your friends might say. It’s about your experience and connection with the game. Remember to enjoy yourself.

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Time to review the reviews…

People read game reviews in order for them to decide if whether to buy or pass on a specific game. Games are not cheap with the new addition of season passes and DLC that are come with a game. The majority of us non-teen gamers are reaching a point in our lives where we don’t have the time to look at every game being in development besides the ones we are diehard fans of. Reviews are all we really have to go on and what we don’t realize is that just one person does reviews.

Now there might be a few of you who say “Well why not look at the game and decide if this is a game you want to play?” Your right! That would be the correct thing to do but lets be honest that takes time. Most people do not want to do research before they buy a game. I mean it’s a video game, not a term paper. Since all we have to go on is a one-person review that person could just be in love with a particular game and he or she may ignore certain things and give it a good review. Or that person may not be interested in playing that type of genre then it will affect that games score. There could also be other factors such as the person reviewing is experiencing some personal problems or might have other projects. There is quite a bit of uncertainty that can happen to affect a review score. That’s why I feel that two people should review a game.

Think about it, you have multiple people’s point of views on playing a game. Maybe one reviewer loves playing that type of genre while the other has never tried it before. You can have the mindset of those who are loyal to that type of game and a mindset of those who have never played that genre of game before. They would both write their review, give it a rating, and you would take the average of that rating which would result in the final score. This would save people time who are “iffy” on a game to decide to buy it. This method would be a win-win for the consumers and the company getting their money on games during initial release.

Another method that came to mind was to re-review a game. Time will have passed and the hype will have died down which will prompt the question – Will that game still hold up as still being “Game of the Year” or worth playing on that certain system? There will also be time to try out any of the DLC attached to the game and say your piece about a game.

Of course I do have one more option that could also bypass the review system, the waiting game. Just waiting for the game to be at a lower cost or the “Game of the Year” edition to come out but, lets be honest, you might actually forget about that game you want to try when the game you want comes out. Two people, two reviews, two scores, is the one thing that would help convince gamers to try a new game they would never try otherwise.

Digital Download can change the world

After hearing how Konami wasn’t making much money from their console department and EA receiving an increase in their digital services, consumers are questioning if every game that comes out should have a multiplayer aspect in a game. It got me thinking, since we now have the option of buying our games digital why don’t developers just make a multiplayer aspect of there game as a digital download?

Here me out folks. Lets take Titanfall for example, now we know that was an online game only and the story line was part of the multiplayer. We all hated how in order to play the game we had to be online to play. Well, what if Titanfall was originally a digital version to begin in which you could only play online? That would have been a smarter option versus making a disk version then having to install the game when you could have avoided all this with a digital copy. If multiplayer portions of games were only a digital version it would make sense to have it priced at $30 to $40 dollars. This could either give developers more time to work on the single player aspect of a game or they could spend their money for development and time on improving the online aspect of a game. Think about it, there would be a reason for a new Call of Duty game every year! One could be a single player experience that could give that series an actual story line and the other year could be a new version to the multiplayer experience.
This idea would catch on with companies and people could actually save money on buying games and studios could save money on developing them. This method would also make the season pass a lot easier to tolerate. With each new version they add to the game it would come with an update and that way, if a company wants to sell a season pass for a multiplayer game for $30, you are ultimately paying $60 to $70 dollars which is pretty much what gamers are doing now. This method could also work in reverse if they want to sell a single player aspect of a game and make the multiplayer portion on a disk.

If companies wanted to sell just an offline version of there game with no multiplayer aspect to there game in stores and the offline version of there game as a digital copy then that’s fine, or vise versa, where they would sell there multiplayer aspect of there game as a digital copy and their offline portion of the game in stores. If any version ends up in stores then it should have everything. For example say there is a online only version of a game that is coming out on disk. That game should include any and all dlc, costumes, or any other content. There should be no dlc for a store version of a game especially if you want us to pay $60 dollars for that game. Any and all bugs or glitches should be checked over. This by no means should be a half finished game you’re trying to push down our throats. If that means that the game would take longer to make then make sure your digital version comes out and keeps us entertained until you’re finish.

I feel like since video games are becoming more advanced and costing more to develop I can see this as a win-win for everyone since all companies would be saving money on making there games and we the consumers would save money on buying them and who doesn’t love to save a few bucks on games.